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Ravenshoe Review - lessons learned from tragedy

Every hospital and health service in Queensland will develop a stand-alone Mass Casualty Incident Plan that can be activated during incidents such as the Ravenshoe explosion.

Queensland Health Director-General Michael Walsh said the recommendation was one of 30 identified in the final report of the independent Ravenshoe review.

The review indicated no concerns had been raised around patients’ clinical outcomes being negatively impacted by the response.

Mr Walsh said all 30 of the recommendations had been accepted and would be in place before the end of the year.

“We have to do everything we can to learn from these kinds of events,” Mr Walsh said.

“The rarity of a critical incident like this makes it more important to draw every possible lesson we can from it.”

The review was led by former Queensland Ambulance Commissioner David Melville APM ASM.

Mr Walsh said the review identified the need for hospital and health services to have mass casualty plans they can activate for these types of events, without the need to activate a region-wide disaster management plan.

“This means resources can be directed to the specific incident in a more streamlined manner.”

Other key recommendations included clarifying emergency staff roles, investigating the possibility of providing live video streaming from the site of an incident to response coordination centres, and using the Ravenshoe incident as a basis for future training exercises.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Julie Hartley Jones said the review provided important recommendations around improving any future response.

“There is no such thing as a perfect disaster response and the review gives us some clear actions to improve our future responses,” Ms Hartley-Jones said.

“What happened in Ravenshoe in June last year was something no one could have predicted and I couldn’t be prouder of the way our staff responded that day and in the many weeks and months following.

“From our doctors, nurses and social workers, to our physiotherapists, travel office and a whole army of support workers who worked with our patients to get them on the road to recovery, it was a tremendous effort.

“The review provides a valuable perspective on lessons learned, and I welcome the recommendations.

“I am also pleased the review found that patients’ clinical outcomes weren’t impacted adversely.”

Mr Walsh said the review clearly identified and suggested more specific processes for hospital and health services to assist them in future similar responses.

“The review has identified some improvements to the health system’s preparedness for these types of events as well as the overall coordination of the response.

“These findings were based on extensive consultation, including a public submissions process and direct engagement with more than 100 representatives involved in the incident.”

Mr Walsh said the recommendations were aimed at providing better support for those responding to events on the frontline.

“The report details recommendations for enhanced training and operational exercises as well as improved communications to support information flow from the site of the incident to coordination centres.

“The people who respond to a mass casualty incident need to be supported by a consistent, evidence-based framework, operating procedures and clinical practice guidelines.

“I welcome the findings and recommendations, which are essentially related to systemic matters and will assist the broader health system to improve in its preparedness for future mass casualty events.”

The final report is available here.

Last updated: 8 March 2016